Panasonic to Bring Blu-ray Disc Burners to Europe

Panasonic will soon begin selling Blu-ray Disc-based video recorders in Europe, it said Thursday at the IFA electronics show in Berlin.

The company put its first Blu-ray Disc burners on sale several years ago in Japan but the planned launch of the products in France later this year marks the first time they will be available in Europe.

Using the recorders, consumers will be able to record high-definition TV programs to Blu-ray Disc without losing quality. The only other options available are to record at standard definition to DVD or VHS tape or in high-definition to hard-disk drive, although the latter makes saving favorite programs difficult because of the limited amount of disc space available.

France was chosen as the launch market in Europe because of the availability of several free-to-air high-definition TV channels, said Takuya Sugita of Panasonic's network business group at a news conference here. It has pursued the same strategy in other markets, such as Australia where the recorders are also available, and so other European countries likely won't see them until wider availability of HDTV.

Both the entry-level DMP-BD35 and the higher-end DMP-BD55 support all flavors of Blu-ray Disc and are compatible with the new BD-Live system on commercial movie discs that pulls down extra content from the Internet. The main difference between the two players is a better digital-to-audio convertor in the DMP-BD55.

The recorder is also compatible with the AVCHD format used in Panasonic's high-definition camcorders. Home movies can be easily copied onto Blu-ray Disc from compatible camcorders thanks to this function.

Pricing and launch dates for the recorders was not announced.

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